A Look Inside the Winery Where Brad Pitt's Champagne Is Made: 'Welcome to Our Speakeasy!'

·7 min read
Brad Pitt
Brad Pitt

Maison de Champagne Fleur de Miraval

The Pierre Peters Champagne house isn't going to have a visitors center, guided bus rides around its fields or a gift shop to buy all things Brad Pitt. It isn't in France's bustling Reims or Epernay, but instead, in Mesnil-sur-Oger, a stone hump hillside village as small and pretty as a postcard.

The house in Mesnil, France is a small-to-moderately-sized champagne maison in a village whose holdings and fields are home to familiar industry giants such as Krug and Launay. It's on prized Cote de Blancs territory, where the Peters family has controlled certain vineyards for six generations. In France, champagne is made slowly, and Pitt's unusual Fleur de Miraval, exacts champagne's long-set rhythm requiring both time and patience. Pitt's champagne is produced on Peters' property in a designated below-ground cellar.

Despite the wrangling in California courts over the sale of Château Miraval, the estate he purchased with Angelina Jolie, Pitt's French business ventures have never been as busy.

In both the southern Provence region as well as France's celebrated Champagne district, Pitt's winemaking ventures — as well as his off-shoot projects — continue forging ahead. In fact, one insider tells PEOPLE "quite a lot has been happening over the last few months, both at Château Miraval in Provence and at Fleur de Miraval in Champagne."

The insider adds, "The new cellar at the Peters' Champagne house has just been renovated and is now ready for the harvest coming next September while the restoration of the recording studio at Château Miraval is finished."

Fleur de Miraval pictures  Fleur de Miraval photos / One of two Eight images this file Subject Brad Pitt's fourth-generation winemaking partner in Champagne Rodolphe Péter.  Credit: Peter Mikelbank
Fleur de Miraval pictures Fleur de Miraval photos / One of two Eight images this file Subject Brad Pitt's fourth-generation winemaking partner in Champagne Rodolphe Péter. Credit: Peter Mikelbank

Peter Mikelbank

In fact, production began at the new space several weeks ago. The insider confirms that the act currently recording at Studio Miraval "is internationally known." Additionally, PEOPLE can confirm that the estate's recording and video facility, which reopened in December, has already begun work on a major film and several video projects.

There's little arguing with Pitt's business acumen and none to his devotion to winemaking. It is, as court records attest, simply "his passion." Since purchasing Château Miraval with Jolie in 2012 and partnering with France's winemaking Perrin family the following year, he has steadily developed the estate's existing vineyards and upgraded its facilities while generating overall interest and international demand for rosé. At the same time, building a premium brand-name business conservatively valued at six-to-seven times the price paid for the entire historic property just a decade ago.

Similarly, Fleur de Miraval, a rosé-styled champagne produced through a complex largely unknown method has, through his involvement attained notable worldwide appeal.

As proof, consider that 20,000 bottles planned for the October release are already sold out, largely to a client base of discerning high-end restaurants and hotels.

The hillsides of Champagne, dedicated to vineyards, are deceptive. Beneath their chalky soil lie hundreds and hundreds of miles of tunnels and hidden cellars where the process of making wine, and then through aging, transforming that wine into magic in a bottle, transpires.

Fleur de MIRAVAL Champagne ad featuring brad pitt
Fleur de MIRAVAL Champagne ad featuring brad pitt

Fleur de MIRAVAL Champagne

The climb down to Fleur de Miraval's renovated champagne winery is achieved through a lengthy series of narrow warehouse stairwells.

The newly redecorated space will remain largely the reserve of invited industry professionals asked in for tastings. Under Pitt's direction, however, the transformation of a faceless industrial vault has achieved a space of purpose, elegance and understated humor.

On a recent visit, after a long walk down, facing a blank wall in an unfurnished space, Pitt's Champagne-resident partner Rodolphe Peters turns and grins, "Here we are!" He points to an empty room decorated with nursery-like paintings. Clearly not the winery, he laughs as he pushes away a concealing wall panel to a much more exciting space, revealing a glass panel door.

The brand's logo — three overlying Ps, representing the Pitt, Perrin and Peters families — is discreetly displayed on a bronze handle. "Welcome to our speakeasy," he smiles.

RELATED: Brad Pitt Previews His New Limited Release Rosé Champagne: It 'Isn't a "Celebrity" Wine for Me'

Fleur de Miraval pictures  Fleur de Miraval photos / One of two Eight images this file Subject Brad Pitt's fourth-generation winemaking partner in Champagne Rodolphe Péter.  Credit: Peter Mikelbank
Fleur de Miraval pictures Fleur de Miraval photos / One of two Eight images this file Subject Brad Pitt's fourth-generation winemaking partner in Champagne Rodolphe Péter. Credit: Peter Mikelbank

Peter Mikelbank

A soft dazzle of colored light filtered through the iron work door invites visitors up a short incline to the actual "cuverie", its cellar winery. Fleur de Miraval's is actually somewhat small, "cocoon-like and a bit secret," Peters says. "We want people who work here and who visit to feel privileged."

Even a builder was duped by the concealment. "One contractor came by early in construction. He wasn't required back again until work was nearly finished," he says. "When he returned the wall was in place. He couldn't find his way around it and so he stood outside for 20 minutes. We like our secrets in Champagne but he just couldn't believe the cuverie was behind a wall."

On entry, the lighting feature is an art piece, representing flowers and champagne bubbles. It's a fun sculpture, warmly reflecting off a muted decor of hammered zinc, natural wood and "noble" materials like bronze and slate. All elements were fabricated by local artisans, Peters proudly notes, including a metalworks firm in Reims which helped renovate the Statue of Liberty.

A large area of the "working winery" is dominated by two giant blond French oak casks holding 5,000 liters each, and several taller, equally sizable stainless steel tanks. Collectively these contain the various elements ("the perpetual reserve" and previous harvests of pinot noir and chardonnay) which, subjected to a unique saigneé process, produce Fleur de Miraval.

Pitt's champagne is largely created by the saignée method he became familiar with at his Provence estate. The preferred method of creating rosé, saignée forges a bolder wine by "bleeding" pressed grape juice away from the mash before contact with seeds and stems darken its juices. It is a demanding method with devotees among finer winemakers in the Loire, Rhone and Napa regions. It hadn't achieved wider recognition in the manufacturing of champagne until the Pitt-Perrin-Peters project demonstrated both its viability and marketability.

brad pitt winery
brad pitt winery

Peter Mikelbank

RELATED: Brad Pitt to Reopen Legendary Recording Studio on His French Vineyard Grounds

Fine wine is not a carnival. It isn't something that springs up overnight in a field outside of town. Champagne requires patience, dedication, planning proper soil, good weather and alchemy figuring into the equation. In the case of Fleur de Miraval, the project remained unannounced for five years. Renovating the cellar took nearly as long.

"Brad wanted to keep the spirit of champagne. He wanted the space to feel intimate and be respectful to the wine," Peters says. "He gave us the basics: respect noble materials, don't be fancy. He said we should keep to the pink and black colors of Fleur de Miraval and in keeping with his overall practice, avoid anything which might associate it with being seen as 'another celebrity wine.'"

Transmitting his ideas to the Champagne architect who drew up blueprints, Pitt reviewed sketches and offered fixes. "He was happy because she got it," Peters grins.

The partnership will release its third bottling, ER3, in early October — and the blend is more intense than previous years. The desire to deepen the wine's complexity with each bottling while creating a wine unlike any other is evident in the glass.

RELATED: Leonardo DiCaprio Visits Fields in France Where the Eco-Friendly Champagne He Invested in Is Made

The color of the upcoming ER3 is a lighter blush than previous editions, achieving a coppery rose color. There's a strong freshness of sweet summer flowers, white linden blooms, preceding the freshness of pinot noir. Afterwards, there's a round, very long sense of its chardonnay. The roughly $300 wine is as delicious as any wine commanding its price must be.

The perception in the U.S. of Fleur de Miraval, Peters notes, has changed since its introduction — especially since its reception at the Oscars dinners.

"I was in California three weeks ago," he explains, "and the impression of the wine community has changed completely. At first, they saw it as one more 'celebrity wine,' but with time and with tastings they've come to appreciate that it is a really challenging process, which creates a very elegant wine."

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